"Please pass the brussels sprouts" is something you'll never hear in our Christmas household. My mother loves them, but for years and years my Dad and I thought they were the root of all Christmas evil (and he still does). However, over the past year or so I have discovered how wonderful a brussels sprout can be when it is shredded and tossed in salads, seasonal slaws, or added to soups and stews. This year? I've gone down the sauté route with fresh thyme (the herb that happened to be in my fridge when I made these and worked beautifully), sweet nuggets of roasted chestnut, salty chunks of fried pancetta, a sprinkling of toasted caraway seeds, and a good few glugs of Worcestershire Sauce to brighten things up a bit.
To be honest, we're pretty bad at sides for a roast as a family in general. That is probably why I'm so apathetic towards roast dinners in the first place. Christmas Day is when we go all out, and that means being as imaginative as actually doing roast potatoes (so few of us like them - me included - so they're rarely produced in this house), roasting some parsnips in either honey, maple or coconut syrup (basically whatever sweet thing I'm obsessed with on any given year), and trying (and not yet being entirely successful with) to do Jamie Oliver's Sweet Glazed Carrots for only three people. Oh, and I make myself Cranberry Sauce with Cherry Brandy, and we stuff our turkey (crown) with our family stuffing recipe. Needless to say, this sprout recipe is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to upping our Christmas day side dish game.
This does not re-heat well (though, it would be great fried up in a leftovers rosti), so only make as much as you're going to serve up. This recipe provides a generous side for about more people, perhaps more if you're putting a fair few different side dishes on the table. (Oh, and if you're after some smart, stylish Christmas china, I'm more than slightly in love with Sophie Conran's range for Portmeirion, and this the Christmas print).
- 1 Small White Onion, finely chopped
- 1 Large Knob Unsalted Butter
- 65g Cubed Pancetta
- 1/4 tsp Caraway Seeds
- 250g Brussels Sprouts (finely shredded)
- 3-4 Sprigs Fresh Thyme
- 3-4 Dashes Worcestershire Sauce
- Freshly Ground Sea Salt & Black Pepper
- Large Handful Cooked Chestnuts, roughly crumbled
In a large sauté pan (I have this one), melt the butter over a medium heat until it is frothy. Add the onion, and cook until translucent, but not browned at all. Add the pancetta and the caraway seeds (lightly crush them between your fingertips as you add them to the pan to help release their flavours), and gently fry until the pancetta has cooked through, and started to crisp. Add the sprouts, and stir until they are coated with the butter, onions and bacon fat. Add the leaves of the thyme sprigs and the Worcestershire Sauce, and fry for about 10 minutes until the sprouts are soft. Season to taste with salt and pepper, and stir in the chestnuts. Serve in a warm serving dish straight to the table.
You can find all of the recipes from my Christmas Kitchen here. Now we're back from France, my Dad has gone back to eating his weight in Mummy's Mince Pies, and I fully plan to enjoy a Gingerbread & Pomegranate Dutch Baby before work every morning, and a Hot Toddy when I get home each evening up until I finish for the year next Friday!